In The Red
Even though the truly superlative Crystal Stilts stole their drummer away, the Vivian Girls don’t sell the sting at all, bashing away joyously and mightily as if nothing was amiss. And what a glorious noise they make! The Vivian Girls are a brash, spikey, black candy caramel sticky mix of The Vaselines, Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush, Thee Headcoatees, Pond, and the Pastels. Vivian Girls (the album) mixes rough-and-tumble playground exuberance with an almost gothic sense of drama; liquid eyeliner ‘n’ tears. Less cutesy and innocent than completely in love with noise and expression. The guitars sound all churn-y and sheet metal distorted like early Dinosaur Jr, the vocals are too cool for school, distant, icy and slightly off-key, while the drums are a grand clatter and din. Songs race by at a median length of around two minutes — bonus!
“Such A Joke” is a wonder, with a beat pinched from the Ronettes via the JAMC, a roar of guitar noise overlaid by tight vocal harmonies that recall a (punker) Mamas and the Papas. “Going Insane” could be a hardcore song in more testosteroned and clumsy hands, but here it’s velocity pop self-doubt wrapped in itchy sheets of white noise and a final frustrated yelp of “It’s hard!” “Tell the World” is a classic bad-girl leather jacket anthem full of so much teenage delinquent disaffection and sass; everyone vocalizes in a snotty monotone over a driving, punchy punkoid beat and tinfoil guitars. “No” and “Never See Me Again” sounds like a recasting of early hardcore, lightning fast tempos and off-tune vocals delivering lyrics full of self-doubt and loathing alongside rat-tat-tat drumbeats, but it’s an entirely different thing. This is snottier, noisier, kinder and more welcoming all at once. “I Believe In Nothing” is the perfect ending — a nihilistic drone worthy of Joy Division, full of icy-voiced gothic menace constantly subsumed by endless waves of candy-apple-n-razorblades pop and hiss.
Vivian Girls is a beguiling mix of innocent and worldly sounds. Not for uptight fucks with snoozer notions of instrumental proficiency.
In The Red: www.intheredrecords.com